TWO Chinese primary schools in Petaling Jaya, located over 30km from Kajang, have become a contentious issue in the fight for the Chinese votes in the by-election.
SJK (C) Chung Hwa in Damansara New Village and SJK (C) Damansara in Tropicana have become a hot topic as the campaign enters the last phase of the polls.
Never mind if it is a 13-year-old issue but some Pakatan Rakyat leaders have accused MCA, together with the Education Ministry, of “hijacking” SJK (C) Damansara from the Damansara New Village to Tropicana, an upmarket suburb some 5km away in 2001.
In short, new villagers had lost the school to the rich, who stay at the upscale part of the area, just 5km away.
But the reality is not quite the same as the political rhetoric. In the absence of solid issues, an old controversy has been resurrected.
What has been omitted is that the school in the new village was eventually reopened in 2009 and renamed SJK (C) Chung Hwa.
While it cannot be denied that the relocation of the village school to Tropicana was a big issue spanning almost eight years, the real facts have been left out for political expediency.
The controversial relocation, followed by the movement “SJK (C) Damansara SOS (save our school)”, was an emotional issue that had even garnered international media attention.
It was essentially a tug of war between Chinese educationist groups, villagers and DAP, and the Education Ministry and MCA at the other end.
While MCA and the Government had various reasons for the relocation, claiming that rapid development had rendered the environment no longer conducive for learning, the general sentiment then was that they were depriving villagers of their school.
The fact that the village is sitting on prime land had led to all sorts of speculation – demolishing the school – to be followed by the village – by a well-linked developer to build high-rise commercial and residential buildings.
The police sealed the school and stood guard outside for quite some time.
Students who refused to be transferred to the school in Tropicana had continued their studies in cabins located within the compound of a temple next door to the school site.
Not withstanding who is right or wrong in the relocation, the Education Ministry reopened the village school and re-named it SJK (C) Chung Hwa in 2009.
Then MCA Youth chief and Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun had worked hard for the reopening.
The school is in the Petaling Jaya Utara constituency where Chew was MP from 1999 until the March 8, 2008 general election when she lost her seat to DAP’s Tony Pua.
Although she was no longer the MP and Selangor had fallen to Pakatan Rakyat, MCA kept its promise to the people to reopen the school.
The relocation of Chinese primary schools with low enrolment to areas with a high Chinese population has been ongoing in the country.
In fact, the exercise, which also sees bigger and better equipped schools being built, has opened up more places for study in Chinese schools.
Whatever reason leading to the reopening of the village school is not as important as the fact that many children, especially those from the village, are studying in the school – SJK (C) Chung Hwa – now.
Unfurling banners “Say no to 2nd SOS in Kajang” is likened to only telling half the story to instil fear and suspicion among the Chinese voters comprising about 40% of the 39,000 plus voters in the by-election.
It is not surprising as Chew is in a direct fight with PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the seat.
Pakatan knows that Chinese education is close to the hearts of the Chinese community, more so in Kajang where the Chinese education movement is particularly strong.
But the facts should not be ignored or twisted in the emotional fight for votes.